Can Gianluigi Buffon deny Zinedine Zidane in yet another final? Image: Twitter
11 years ago, an outstretched hand from Gianluigi Buffon denied Zinedine Zidane the ultimate glory on football’s biggest stage: the World Cup final in Berlin.
Minutes after that save, Zidane’s career came to a premature end when he received his marching orders for head-butting Marco Materazzi. Now, once again, it is GiGi Buffon who stands between Zizou and history. Ladies and gents, The UEFA Champions League final is upon us.
Zinedine Zidane and his Real Madrid side have been nothing short of brilliant this season. The French legend turned around Madrid’s season when he took over from Rafa Benitez mid-way through last season and led Los Blancos to their 11th European title.
In his first full season in charge, Zidane managed to break Barcelona’s stranglehold on the Spanish League title. In addition to that, he even masterminded his way past teams like Naopli, Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid to reach their second consecutive Champions league final.
And now, they are 90 minutes away from making history by becoming the first team to successfully defend the title in the Champions League era. From being an uncertain gamble, Zidane the manager, could now catapult into the stratosphere by becoming the first manager since Italian Arrigo Sacchi to win the European cup consecutively.
In his way though, is an evergreen Buffon who has been responsible for Juventus conceding the fewest goals in the competition.
At 39, Buffon has never looked better between the sticks and has already helped the Bianconeri bag a League and Cup double in Italy. Now Massimiliano Allegri and his band of warriors have their sights on the treble. But it is Buffon who has the biggest reason to win.
Before the Champions League final : Juventus & Real Madrid's managers 20 years ago pic.twitter.com/sGyDJ9lULS— Old School Panini (@OldSchoolPanini) June 3, 2017
The Italian custodian has won almost every trophy of consequence in his career, except for the Champions League. He comes into this final with an empty hand just like in 2006 when Zidane came looking to win his second World Cup final. Can Buffon find it in him to deny Zidane again? Or will Cristiano Ronaldo and Co. take Zinedine Zidane to the Promised Land? We will find out for sure tonight.